Women’s College Admissions: Are Trans Women Left in the Dust?

From The Edge Boston:   http://www.edgeboston.com/news/national/151564/women%E2%80%99s_college_admissions:_are_trans_women_left_in_the_dust

by Antoinette Weil
Tuesday Nov 5, 2013

The women’s college traditionally has been a place for social experimentation, nonconformity and ferocious advocacy for social justice. To their credit, women’s colleges have been at the forefront of our country’s ever-changing cultural landscape and have served as forums for important questions, including ones about conventional gender roles and what it means to be a woman. Now, with transgender issues at last making their mainstream debut as the next wave in the LGBT movement, the women’s college is faced with one of its biggest questions to date: Where do trans students fit in to these unique learning institutions?

Transgender student policies are largely still being ironed out, and these policies are a topic that has sparked debate on both sides of the aisle, causing many women’s colleges internal turmoil.

Currently, while some women’s colleges have enacted specific policies on transgender students and student applicants, most remain up in the air, ostensibly subject to a case-by-case examination. While perusing transgender policies at some of the remaining women’s schools, it is commonplace to see references to diversity and LGBTQ inclusion coupled with a statement of exclusivity, somewhere along the lines of “[insert college here] only admits women.” For cisgender males and females this appears pretty black and white — but what exactly does it mean for transgender students?

Are the applications of transwomen considered? Largely they are not unless the applicant has undergone sex reassignment procedures and legally changed her gender marker before the time of application. Considering the majority of undergraduate applicants begin the process of seeking admission at 17 or 18 years old, this is a tall order. The expenses related to sex reassignment surgeries, most of which are not covered by insurance and must be paid out of pocket, are enough to put transgender females of most income levels at a severe disadvantage when applying to a women’s college. This disadvantage is amplified for individuals in low-income households.

For female to male transitioning students, however, the process is more favorable. Applicants who were born female and who are “legally” female will be given a fair shake with the rest of the women applying. The rules vary from school to school on whether enrolled students choosing to transition from female-to-male during their college years are allowed to continue toward their degree.

Hollins University in Virginia, whose transgender policy has been called “the strictest of an American college” by the Chronicle of Higher Education, will consider transgender females for admission if they have already undergone sex reassignment and have legally changed their gender marker, but will not allow transgender males undergoing sex reassignment to continue toward their undergraduate degree. While they have not had to implement their policy yet, officials from Hollins say it will assist transmale students in finding a new school, but that it strictly admits and graduates women.

Continue reading at:  http://www.edgeboston.com/news/national/151564/women%E2%80%99s_college_admissions:_are_trans_women_left_in_the_dust

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